Novak Djokovic gives big hint his injury nightmare could be ending

Novak Djokovic plays a shot

Novak Djokovic’s fitness has been a big concern in the build-up to the French Open, with the world No 1 forced to pull out of this week’s Madrid Open due to an elbow problem.

The issue affected Djokovic as he suffered surprisingly early exits in his first two clay court tournaments of 2023, as he lost against Lorenzo Musetti in Monte-Carlo and then slumped to a defeat against compatriot Dusan Lajovic in Banja Luka.

It was clear in both those defeats that Djokovic was troubled by his elbow problem, with the consistency that is his trademark from the back of the court lacking as he threw in unexpected unforced errors.

The elbow problem also appeared to be affecting his serve, with Carlos Alcaraz installed as the favourite for the French Open by bookmakers.

Now Djokovic fans are waiting see if their hero can compete at his top level in the upcoming Rome Masters and images of him returning to the practice courts suggest the Serb is on course to make a successful comeback.

Djokovic has been in the Puente Romano tennis resort in Marbella and he has been practicing without any support on his injured elbow in the Spanish sun.

The reigning Wimbledon champion appeared to be hitting the ball cleanly as he went through his paces on clay courts, as he looks to make a decision on his participation in Rome.

After wearing an elbow support during his matches in Banja Luka, Djokovic told reporters that he was “not in ideal condition” as he battled the pain to play in that event.

This is not the first time Djokovic has struggled with an elbow injury, with his former coach Andre Agassi recalling the issue that hastened his exit from the Serbian’s camp.

His eagerness to avoid surgery and medical intervention has been in evidence over the last couple of years as he refused to take a Covid vaccine and that stance has been in place for some time according to Agassi.

“I only knew him with a hurt elbow, so it was always plasters and big problems,” Agassi recalled. “I think there was a real hope his elbow could heal naturally, holistically.

“I personally wasn’t a fan of that choice. You can’t force someone when it comes to their own body, you have to understand their hesitations, but health is a function of taking care of your body, making the hard decisions, giving yourself the time and then moving forward methodically. Rest wasn’t going to do it in my estimation.

“When I saw the results of his MRIs in August, I was very clear with him: I advocated surgery right away, because that could end the issue once and for all.”

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